The Gibraltar government is to become one of the first in the world to ban cosmetics and other products which contain plastic microbeads.
The announcement of planned new legislation to ban such imports was made this week and follows on from previous initiatives to reduce the use of plastic bags in Gibraltar.
As a result of that campaign, an increasing number of local businesses are now voluntarily moving towards using paper, textiles and other natural alternatives.
Environmental experts are very concerned about microbeads, which are the non-biodegradable components of many different products. They are small enough to pass through water filtration plants and end up in lakes and rivers. They have been found to persist in the ocean and find their way into the food chain through marine organisms, harming fish and other marine life and with as yet unknown effects on human health. Other countries including the UK are in the process of banning microbeads, which will be replaced in many products by natural biodegradable alternatives.
These microscopic particles are used in products such as shower gels, face washes, toothpastes and cleaning products, but are often not listed as such in the contents.